Sunday, September 21, 2008

Half Dome, Yosemite

I'm still not done with selecting the pictures from our Mt. Langley hike, but in the meantime I thought I'd put up some from a more recent trip to Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. That day (September 13th), I did not take a lot of pictures because Zbigniew also carried his camera and I was getting a bit lazy after the Langley hike.

In the spring, Vernal Falls is one of the most impressive waterfalls, and the "Misty Trail", which we took to get to Half Dome, pretty much soaks you because it traverses close by. But the main source of water is melted snow, so in the fall, there's no mist on the trail and the waterfall is small by Yosemite standards.

Getting to the top of Half Dome requires getting up this steep granite slope. The cables would make it quick and easy if it wasn't for the crowds of people waiting to make their next step. There are two options, basically. The first is to be very patient and make step after step between the two cables. I believe this takes hours but only tried it for twenty minutes or so. The second option is to go outside the cables, so that way there's just one cable to hold onto but you get to bypass the traffic jam. With that, the climb takes 15 minutes or so.

And sure enough, we made it! This is me celebrating by jumping around on the rock a bit, with Yosemite Valley in the background.

I think Half Dome is easily the most fantastic cliff I've been on. Here's a stitched image that covers a wider angle. Of course, being right next to such a cliff can't really be captured with photography.

While I enjoyed this hike due to this one-of-a-kind massive piece of awesome granite, I have to also mention that the trail is overcrowded to a point where it reduces the fun, at least for me. With this many people around, it seems difficult to get a sense of the surrounding wilderness; basically you hear voices and cellphones all the time. Undeniably it's a great hike, but it does not deliver the experience of being away from the crowds - which is one of the best things about hiking.

For more pics, check out Zbigniew's album and my album.

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